A new study conducted by researchers in the US has suggested that chemotherapy could allow cancer to spread, whilst also causing more aggressive tumours to emerge. The researchers studied how the drugs were affecting patients who had breast cancer, and claimed that they found that the medication was increasing the chance of cancer cells moving to other parts of the body.
The researchers of the study, which was originally published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, put forward the idea that despite chemotherapy shrinking tumours in the short term, it could be have the potential to spread cancer cells around the rest of the body. According to reports, this could occur by the medication triggering a repair mechanism which causes the body to grow the tumour back in a stronger form, as well as increasing the paths of blood vessels which allow the cancer to spread.
Dr George Karagiannis, of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in New York has claimed that the number of doorways increased in 20 patients that were receiving the chemotherapy drugs. His research also stated that cancer cells circulating the body was increased in mice receiving breast cancer chemotherapy. He suggested that one approach would be to obtain a small amount of tumour tissue after a few doses of preoperative chemotherapy.
He stated, “If we observe that the markers scores are increased we would recommend discontinuing chemo and having surgery first, followed by post-operative chemo. We are currently planning more extensive trials to address the issue. In this study we only investigated chemotherapy-induced cancer cell dissemination in breast cancer. We are currently working on other types of cancer to see if similar effects are elicited.”
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